The managing editor of The Cache Citizen, Utah State University's weekly community newspaper, has been fired for what the publisher called an "incendiary" violation of journalistic standards.
USU senior Nicole Olmstead was dismissed after placing a fictitious birth announcement containing an obscene and explicit reference to a sex act in the newspaper's May 22 edition.In a May 29 editorial, publisher Scott Chisholm said the paper was a "victim of an act of sabotage."
"A student editor deliberately altered a regular column by inserting language no newspaper or reader can condone. The editor was fired," said Chisholm, the director of the school's communications department.
The editorial did not name Olmstead.
Contacted at her Logan home, Olmstead said she regrets the incident.
"I feel terrible. I realize I've screwed up," she said. "I would mainly like to apologize to our readers, who I let down through a deceptive prank and an uncalled-for act.
"It was an act of frustration more than anything, but there's no justification for it," she said.
Olmstead, who graduates this week and still hopes to pursue a career in journalism, said she put the notice in the paper on a dare.
"I didn't think that anyone would notice or really care, and I didn't even foresee the consequences," she said.
The Citizen, produced by a student staff under the direction of the school's communications department, is circulated throughout the Cache Valley and covers local area news. It is not connected with USU's campus newspaper.
Chisholm and the Citizen's faculty adviser, Nancy Williams, said the firing had the unanimous approval of department faculty.
He said letters of apology were sent to Logan Regional Hospital, which provides the paper's birth announcements, and to USU President Stanford Cazier.